Better CEO, better pizza?
Papa John’s says that its CEO and founder John Schnatter will be stepping aside in early 2018, after Schnatter knocked the NFL over its players protesting minority injustice and the election of President Donald Trump.
On Thursday, the company said in a statement that Schnatter remains with Papa Johns but will be replaced as CEO by associate Steve Ritchie on January 1st.
When pizza sales started to decline, the soon-to-be-former restaurant boss blasted the National Football League, with which he has enjoyed a long sponsor relationship.
“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” Schnatter hissed in November. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”
His pro-Trump, anti-kneeling statement caused such a backlash that the company was forced to apologize.
The CEO’s comments also drew praise from Neo-Nazis. Ritchie has not elucidated on whether or not Schnatter’s NFL comments played any role in the latter losing his position.
Schnatter did not build the first Papa John’s or start the company himself, though his name and the commercials he starred in often gave that impression.
Things haven’t been going well under his watch, according to CBS News:
Shares of Papa John’s are down about 13 percent since the day before the NFL comments were made, reducing the value of Schnatter’s stake in the company by nearly $84 million. Schnatter owns nearly 9.5 million shares of Papa John’s International Inc., and his total stake was valued at more than $560 million on Thursday, according to FactSet. The company’s stock is down 30 percent since the beginning of the year.
Schnatter, 56, founded Papa John’s more than three decades ago, when he turned a broom closet at his father’s bar into a pizza spot. And it has since grown to more than 5,000 locations. Schnatter has also become the face of the company, showing up in TV ads with former football player Peyton Manning. The company hasn’t decided if Schnatter will still be its spokesman, Ritchie said, adding that a decision will be made early next year.
Now it is Ritchie’s turn. Pizza fans – and football fans – will be anxious to find out exactly what angle the new CEO takes on the NFL protests, Colin Kaepernick and President Trump.